Netanyahu Says Would Consider Ukraine-Russia Mediator Role If Asked by Both

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the Bocharov Ruchei state residence in Sochi, in 2019. (Reuters/Shamil Zhumatov)

(Reuters/Hamodia) – Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said in an interview on Tuesday he would be willing to consider serving as a mediator between Russia and Ukraine if asked by both warring countries and the United States.

“If asked by all relevant parties, I’ll certainly consider it, but I’m not pushing myself in,” Netanyahu told CNN. He added it would have to be the “right time and the right circumstances.”

The United States would also need to ask because “you can’t have too many cooks in the kitchen,” he said.

Netanyahu said he was asked to be a mediator shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February of last year but he declined because he was opposition leader at the time, not the prime minister. “I have a rule: one prime minister at a time,” he said.

Netanyahu would not say who asked him to serve in the role but he said the request was “unofficial.”

Ukraine asked Netanyahu’s predecessor, Naftali Bennett, to act as a mediator and Bennett met in March with Russian President Vladimir Putin and also spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky but he was unable to broker a peace deal.

Netanyahu also said he was “looking into” providing Kyiv with “other kinds of aid” besides humanitarian, which has consisted of medical aid, flak jackets and more.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken earlier this week expressed appreciation for Israel’s shipment of three bullet-proof ambulances to Ukraine to help the home front, but said he wanted to see what more could be done, hinting at military assistance.

Following the interview, Russia repeated its warning against supplying weapons to Ukraine.

“We say that all countries that supply weapons (to Ukraine) should understand that we will consider these (weapons) to be legitimate targets for Russia’s armed forces,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters.

“Any attempts — implemented or even unrealized but announced for the supply of additional, new or some other weapons — lead and will lead to an escalation of this crisis. And everyone should be aware of this,” Zakharova said.

The warning from Moscow also comes after reports in recent weeks that Israel has refused requests from the U.S. to transfer ten Hawk anti-aircraft batteries and hundreds of interceptor missiles to Ukraine.

However, The New York Times reported that the Pentagon was quietly shipping hundreds of thousands of artillery shells to Ukraine from a stockpile it maintains in Israel.

The armaments were stored for the U.S. to use in possible regional conflicts, and Israel has permission to draw from them in the event of an emergency, the report said.

Netanyahu told CNN that it’s an American decision and he “has no problem” with it.

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